Developing Successful Storytellers

Support A Good Book Drive and build a library of children’s books for East Vancouver literacy program the Writers’ Exchange.

This is a story about stories and storytelling. Its purpose is to inspire you to, first, give a copy of your favourite children’s book to a kid and, second, support A Good Book Drive if you live in Vancouver. Why? Because stories are the most powerful communications tool that we, as humans, have at our disposal.

“How do we get people to act on our idea? We tell stories.” This is a line from the first chapter of Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, a must-read for teachers, communicators, marketers, leaders, and pretty much anyone who wants to get their ideas across in an effective and inspiring way.

In a nutshell – or some kind of stickier legume – here are the Heath Brothers’ six principles for SUCCESsful ideas:

SIMPLICITY – To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion.

UNEXPECTEDNESS – We need to violate people’s expectations. We need to be counterintuitive.

CONCRETENESS – We must explain our ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information.

CREDIBILITY – We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves – a “try before you buy” philosophy for the world of ideas.

EMOTIONS We make people feel something.

STORIES –  Research shows that mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encounter that situation in the physical environment. Similarly, hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.

Like I said, storytelling means the ability to influence, and stories are not only the preferred idea-delivery-mechanism of the Heath Brothers, but are also at the centre of Andy Goodman’s belief that “stories are the single most powerful communications tool” that we have available to us. Check out his very free and very awesome PDF “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes” to learn more about incorporating storytelling into what you do.

In the broadest professional sense, recent research by the American Management Association, the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers, and several North American universities has found that the top competency employers look for when they hire talent is communication: they want to know that you can speak and write effectively, persuasively and with good grammar and syntax.

Fun fact: as a young professional, it is more detrimental to your career to consistently spell things wrong on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your blog than it is to have pictures of you drinking.

So, knowing how to understand, create and tell stories is possibly the most important thing for human beings to harness in order to realize their potential, which is why you should help kids from inner-city schools in Vancouver achieve their storytelling potential by supporting A Good Book Drive. And if Vancouver isn’t home, well, there are programs like this one in your community, too. And if there isn’t such a program, start one.

The need for literacy programs in inner-city Vancouver is evident; schools designated as “inner-city” are located in communities where crime rates are high, and a large percentage of the population has low education levels and receives income assistance. The children growing up in these neighbourhoods and attending inner-city schools are struggling with reading and writing.

A Good Book Drive is an annual book drive in Vancouver sharing children’s books and stories with a new generation of readers. It is a project from the non-profit storytelling organization Rain City Chronicles and this year the campaign will support Vancouver’s Writers’ Exchange.

The Writers’ Exchange is the only program in Vancouver where children work with volunteer mentors and professional writers to boost their literacy skills and self-esteem through free homework help, dedicated reading time and creative writing projects. The Writer’s Exchange is a project of Tides Canada Initiatives, a nationally registered charity.

To learn more and receive updates on A Good Book Drive please visit:

agoodbookdrive.com
facebook.com/agoodbookdrive
@agoodbookdrive
@agoodbookdrive 

For more information about A Good Book Drive please contact:
Lizzy Karp
agoodbookdrive@gmail.com
604.910.2807

For more information about the Writers’ Exchange please contact:
Sarah Maitland
smaitland@vancouverWE.com
778.888.5498
vancouverWE.com

Sport and Community Leadership

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC is leading positive change in Vancouver. We predict the club’s ideas, commitments and positive role modeling will soon send ripples throughout the worlds of sport, wellness and community. We look forward to measuring the myriad ways that Vancouver’s newest professional sporting club reaches its potentiality – on the pitch as well as in the community.

As part of their club vision, the Whitecaps are committed to being a significant community asset. For the past year, the club has been championing the Vancouver Street Soccer League through a unique partnership with the DTES community sport association. In addition to frequent ticket giveaways, practices with Whitecaps FC men and women’s teams and the recent nomination of VSSL President Alan Bates as their community MVP, the team has also looked to grow its roots within the youth soccer community. A recent example was their free community clinic at UBC where the Whitecaps invited over 100 students from Hastings Elementary and U-Hill Elementary for a coaching session with Carl Valentine (‘Caps Legend and current Booster), Jay DeMerit (the club’s Captain), and Russell Teibert (one of the club’s Canadian stars).

A new study by Griffith University’s School of Business will explore the relationship between new sporting clubs and the communities they impact by investigating “the benefits gained in terms of the fan base they will stimulate as well as the well-being of the communities they enter” and will aim to “identify ways to maximise both outcomes.” [Editor’s note: please take note of our outstanding quotations and credit-giving, Margaret Wente!].

A study by Up2Us of American professional sports leagues and the philanthropy that they deliver for communities, suggests that “‘team-based philanthropy’ centers around the following five categories: Funding; Signatures and Seats; Free Marketing; Team/Player Involvement; and Use of Space.” The report recommends that professional clubs go beyond providing hand-picked organizations with free tickets, signed merchandise and field space by truly inspiring and investing in their communities, even if it’s for transparently self-serving reasons.

For example, a team might address the challenge of youth health, wellness and fitness by, say, contributing to the construction and management a giant Soccer Training Centre that will provide access to youth in the Lower Mainland (and beyond), but will also provide an incubator for future Whitecaps FC talent. Another example from the report is a recommendation for clubs to not award grants to single community teams or local nonprofits, but to challenge these community-based organizations to develop campaigns or programs as part of a competition, where the winning organization would receive something cool (e.g. taco night with Jay DeMerit!) from the professional team.

In addition to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, here are some randomly-selected North American pro-sports clubs (and one very tall man) that are doing cool things:

What do you think of how sport clubs give and how such engagement helps communities realize their potential?

Ahava Shira – The Heartful Entrepreneur

 

Who are you?

I am a poet, storyteller, performer, photographer, and long-time journal writer. I am the founder of the Centre for Loving Inquiry, where I facilitate individual and group mentoring programs, retreats and home-study courses for people who want to bring more creativity and compassion into their lives. The practice of Loving Inquiry supports us to open our hearts and to engage with more kindness and curiousity toward ourselves and others.

I also work as the program facilitator for the Connecting Generations Program, which creates opportunities for conversation and learning between high school students, youth, adults and elders in the Salt Spring Island community.

I am the host of Love in the Afternoon, a radio show that walks listeners through the practice of Loving Inquiry, and encourages them to live with more creativity and compassion (on Salt Sprig Radio, CFSI 107.9FM or www.cfsi-fm.com online).

I am also the author of a book of poetry, Weaving of My Being and a poetry CD, Love is Like This. To learn more about my work visit www.ahavashira.com/

What do you do for fun?

I write, do yoga, walk in nature, hang out with my Goddess-son, listen to all kinds of music, host my radio show, make raw truffles, watch movies with my partner, play in a collage journal, read novels and non-fiction books on relationships, work and spirituality, sip tea in cafes and have wonderfully deep conversations with friends and clients.

What is your favourite community? Why?

The human and more-than-human community because I am intrigued and delighted by our interconnectedness. I live on a farm and find joy and refuge in nature’s variety and beauty.  I also love listening to people’s stories and learning about the diverse ways they live.

What is your superpower?

I am present and alert when I am speaking or being with others and that makes me highly intuitive and a really good listener. I am also very good at improvisation: being willing to “not know” what’s going to happen, to stay open and to say yes to whatever emerges in the moment. I use these superpowers in my work as a writer, facilitator, mentor, radio show host and as a speaker and performer.

How do you use it to build community?

In my experience, we build community when we are kind and authentic and when we share our unique gifts and ways of being in the world. Through the Centre for Loving Inquiry, Connecting Generations and Love in the Afternoon, I am helping to create a world that honours the diversity and interdependence of all people and all beings. In my writing and teaching, I seek to relate to people with openness, empathy and compassion.

My Three Favourite Things About Ahava Are…

1. Entrepreneurial Spirit. I love the myriad ways that Ahava both engages and builds community; from hosting a radio show to truffle making, she is an absolute model as to how the practice of education can uniquely realize its potential. Ahava speaks with authenticity and positive energy that captivates audiences and clients in a one-on-one environment and her many projects reflect the passion with which she connects with her community.

2. Connecting Across Generations. The Connecting Generations Program is just fantastic! Our elders have so many stories to share and so much history that can, well, warn us about mistakes we might be repeating and, more importantly, inspire us to build a better and happier future. Connecting youth and elders represents an unfortunate gap in many communities, and it’s inspiring to see how Ahava and her team are creating and sustaining such an important connection.

3. Lovin’ the Creativity! Reading this interview simply makes me feel love and creativity. Such things radiate from Ahava. And this is a beautiful thing!

 

The Apartment Community Complex

Copyright deepinswim / Flickr

Last Friday evening I arrived home from work via bicycle with a few reusable bags of groceries in each hand, which caused me to use the elevator. As I shimmied my way inside, the door was held open for me by a kindhearted neighbour, Sonia (sp?), who had in her possession some nifty artwork. Naturally, I struck up a conversation about the piece and Sonia politely inquired about my ride home on such a nice day.

And then something unfortunate happened…

JOHN: “Could you please push the button for the second floor? Thanks, Sonia”

SONIA: “Second floor, eh? So, are you new to the building?”

JOHN: “Nope, my wife and I have lived here for about a year and a half now. You?”

SONIA: “Yeah, I’ve been here for about the same amount of time.”

[INSERT SHARED AWKWARD MOMENT HERE.]

JOHN: “Well…nice to meet you, Sonia.”

[Both make disappointed, semi-ashamed eye-contact and nod goodbye.]

This problematic encounter, I imagine, is an all too common scene within apartment buildings around Vancouver. Sure, I – like most people in this city – are super-polite and very friendly to my neighbours; however, only one other person in my building has actually entered Michelle and my apartment and I regretfully don’t go deep enough in my encounters with neighbours.

This case gets more interesting – perhaps a bit confounding – as the people in our building are supercool folks, which Michelle and I have learned during two strata meetings. There are Inventors, members of the film industry, an Operations Manager for YVR, a Somali Pirate, Yoga Instructors, a Manager of a Mr. Lube franchise, Mr. Lube, Kevin Quinlan, an Actress, a Health Promotion Project Manager, a Comedian, two Welders, and the couple next to Michelle and I who have nicer tomatoes than we do (no envy, we’re just impressed).

I mean, who wouldn’t want to have meaningful conversations with these fine folks?!

Basically, here are three options on which I would love your feedback as I move forward this my quest to build community within my apartment building:

  1. Knock on everyone’s door and introduce myself. PRO: this is probably the most efficient way to get to know my community. CON: this is probably the most efficient way to annoy and/or alienate my community.
  2. Throw a festive holiday party for the building. PRO: who doesn’t love parties?! CON: our building lacks a shared community space, so we would either have to cram 35+ people into one unit and/or host the event in the back alley (for the record, neither of these things are “cons” from my perspective, but I live in a world where they are not deemed “acceptable”).
  3. Borrow ideas from 1990s sitcoms. PRO: the “holiday candy” episode of Friends and the “photographs and kiss hello” episode of Seinfeld were both great in their own way; further, superficial community-connections were definite outcomes of these plot lines. CON: in Friends the community rebelled and aggressively demanded that Monica make more candy, much to hilarious chagrin of the show’s most shrill character; in Seinfeld, Jerry’s refusal to kiss hello results in the vandalism of his photo on the community wall as well as his being shunned by several members of the people in his building (although this problem doesn’t come up again within the Seinfeld universe…).

Speaking of community, Gumbooteers, what do you think of these options? What are other suggestions that you have for building community within apartment buildings?

As our world becomes more dense and urbanized, building positive and productive communities in smaller and smaller urban spaces will be of tremendous importance. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and knock on some doors.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Community Asset Review – Part 11

Editors’ note: Kurt and John are firm believers that Vancouver can and should be the Canadian epicenter for growing the sport and culture of soccer football soccer. This is a self-described healthy community. We can play outside year-round, as fields are rarely closed due to snow and/or freezing. And, most importantly, Vancouver is the place to expertly develop the sport of soccer because our city’s team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, shares this goal and so demonstrates this vision through its Club Structure and the Whitecaps Foundation, which aims to create the fittest generation of BC Youth by 2020.

As Vancouver Whitecaps FC season ticket holders, Kurt and John are well-positioned to evaluate how the franchise showcases its commitment to “be a significant community asset” – so, following every match we will reflect on this commitment by answering two questions, which are below. Sometimes we bring friends and/or family-members to the game. And sometimes those awesome friends and/or family-members write awesome blog posts about the experience.

On July 18 the ‘Caps tied the LA Galaxy 2-2. On July 22 the ‘Caps defeated San Jose 2-1.

HOW IS THE CLUB A SIGNIFICANT COMMUNITY ASSET?

D’uh, #winning #drawing against David Beckham and #winning against an MLS’s best team, the San Jose Earthquakes. BC Place was packed for both games, and the match against the LA Galaxy was sold out – had the ‘Caps not played to strikingly well, many of the casual fans who came to see His Royal Underwearness (rather than their home team) would have been very unlikely to return for another home game against, say, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, or another an MLS team from a tier-two American city with no almost-washed-up English Premier League stars on their roster.

As it turns out, putting a quality product on the field is a great way to demonstrate how the club is a significant community asset. Look, anytime David Beckham misses a free kick from this close it’s a beautiful thing:

WHAT COULD MAKE THE CLUB AN EVEN BETTER ASSET?

Destroy the spirit and will of referee-pushing Olympic turnaway David Beckham and his heels of teammates Donovan and Keane by beating them by a significant margin in front of more than 20,000 people, many of whom are not ‘Caps fans but will attend the match to experience the tour de force* that is The Beckham Show.

I’ve done the maths; a crushing victory over the Galaxy will secure at least 362 multi-game fans for the 2013 season and 73 season ticket holders for 2014.

For a sports club, being a significant community asset is, after all, about #winning.

Livable Laneways Paths to Plazas Event

A few weeks ago, Australia Bureau Chief Jilly Charlwood contributed a fantastic article about Laneway Learning – below is some information about what Vancouver is doing to showcase some unique, behind-the-scenes communities – and potential – of its re-imagined and hyper-creative laneways. Enjoy!

- John Horn

For the second year, Vancouver City laneways are being re-imagined, and public events are taking place in the bustling lane at Broadway and Main bringing musicians, local business operators, artists, urban farmers and producers, residents, and visitors to the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Livable Laneways Night Markets is a VIVA Vancouver initiative supported by the City of Vancouver. Coordinated by Livable Laneways, a non-profit organization, Paths to Plazas is an example of how they are dedicated to transforming the overlooked laneways and alleys of Vancouver into pedestrianfriendly zones. It is a collaboration that includes Blim, The Beaumont Studios the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area, as well as special guests, Mount Pleasant Victory Market, StudioCAMP and Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN).

The events take place on July 21st, 28th and August 4th from 5-10pm.

For more information on the vendors and participants, please see the list below
for website details:

Masthead photo from ecstaticist’s photostream on Flickr

Vote for Alan Bates!

Alan Bates with the Portland FC team at the Homeless World Cup in Brazil

Dear Gumbooteers.

Rarely do Kurt and I call on you for swift and decisive action. But we’re asking for it now. Please visit MLS W.O.R.K.S. (which stands for Major League Soccer … W.O.R.K.S?) and vote to make friend of The ‘Boot, Alan Bates, the MLS Community MVP. Nominated by Vancouver Whitecaps FC, here are a few words about Coach Bates:

For the last four years, Dr. Alan Bates has been leading Vancouver’s Street Soccer community. Street Soccer is soccer for people affected by homelessness. As a resident physician in Vancouver’s inner-city hospital, Dr. Bates sees many people affected by mental illness, addictions and homelessness in the emergency room. When he heard about Street Soccer, he recognized it as an opportunity to help a similar group of people, but through sport. Shortly after joining Vancouver’s first Street Soccer team as a volunteer, Dr. Bates partnered with a small number of grass-roots volunteers and the Portland Hotel Society (one of Vancouver’s largest social housing providers) to form Portland FC. With Dr. Bates as the volunteer Head Coach, Portland FC has gone on to play with or against the Vancouver Police, the Mayor of Vancouver and some of the Vancouver Whitecaps. In 2010, they represented Canada at the Homeless World Cup in Rio de Janeiro where they won the prestigious Fair Play award and were featured on national and international media including CBC, CTV, and CNN. In addition to providing amazing experiences for the players, the team has generated a lot of public interest in the issue of homelessness as people are able to identify with soccer players and the inherent humanity of the highs and lows of the beautiful game. Dr. Bates also played a significant role in creating Canada’s first ever women’s Street Soccer team which represented Canada at the Homeless World Cup in Paris in 2011. As the President of the Vancouver Street Soccer League, Dr. Bates has grown the League to nine teams including teams for women, new immigrants, street youth, and First Nations players. Dr. Bates’ research about Street Soccer has demonstrated that players find better housing, gain employment, reduce drug use, make friends, build confidence, improve their skills and physical fitness, gain medical support and decrease contact with police. For the last four years, players have known that every Sunday morning, rain or shine, all year-round, Dr. Bates will be there to lead practice and provide a safe and fun environment to play soccer with friends and supports.

Meta World Peace being honoured and priviledged to meet Coach Alan Bates

Thanks very much for your time and consideration, Awesome Community-Members. Now get out there and vote early, often and tell 10 friends about this post.

Enjoy!

Masthead photo courtesy of robholland’s photostream on Flickr

Vancouver Startup Gives Back to Community Through Crowdfunding

Made famous by websites like “Kickstarter,” crowdfunding has become an easy and effective means of raising money for projects. Vancouver-based tech startup “Weeve” makes use of this practice to raise money for local community projects and is the first in the world which uses a “freemium” model, allowing nonprofit organizations to keep money raised on Weeve without transaction fees. Weeve launched its beta website this week and is already seeing donations come in.

Weeve users are asked to “give smarter” by allowing their dollars to go directly into community projects in need of funding. Beta-launch partners include Seva Canada, YouthCo, SharkTruth, and BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Through Weeve, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s “Campaign for BC Children” is aiming to raise $5000 to help build a new hospital.

“Partners like the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation benefit from Weeve through a number of means. First of all, our website lets them keep every dollar that they raise,” says Trevor Loke, Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Weeve, “We equip nonprofits with the platform and tools needed to reach audiences they may never have tapped into before. We also give tech-savvy and socially-conscious citizens an easy way to give small amounts of money that add up to create real change right where they live – change they can see. Weeve empowers nonprofit organizations to reach these crowds.”

Alex Chuang, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, says that Weeve is the solution to a greater issue that is affecting nonprofits around the globe, “Individual giving in Canada peaked in 1991 when 30% of Canadians gave to charities. Today, that number hovers at less than 1 in 4 – an all-time low. Nonprofits worldwide are feeling the brunt of governments which are cutting their funding, making crowdfunding a tangible solution for the funding crisis in the nonprofit sector.”

Other organizations and community projects will be launched in the coming weeks. To check out current projects visit www.weeve.it.

Weeve founders consist of CEO Alex Chuang, a graduate of the Master of Management program at the UBC Sauder School of Business; COO Trevor Loke, a marketing, communications and fundraising professional who is also an elected official in the City of Vancouver as Vancouver Park Board Commissioner; and CTO Vincent Chu, who has worked for companies including SAP & IBM. All founders are 23 years old. And here is what they look like:

Alex Chuang- Founder and CEO

Trevor Loke- Founder and COO

Vincent Chu- Founder and CTO

The Launch of Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the City of Vancouver’s Healthy People, Healthy City conference. The conference marked the launch of the Healthy City Strategy, which complements the City’s other two strategies – the Greenest City Action Plan, and the Vancouver Economic Action Strategy. Together, these three strategies attempt to address the social, ecological and economic needs of Vancouver. The Healthy City Strategy is comprised of three components – healthy people: taking care of the basics; healthy communities: promoting inclusion, belonging and connectedness; and healthy environments: ensuring livability now and into the future. Within each of these components, a number of ‘building blocks’ needed to achieve a healthy city are identified.

A highlight of the conference was the keynote address by The Globe and Mail public health reporter André Picard. Reflecting on what it takes to create a healthy city, Mr. Picard spoke of the importance of addressing the social determinants of health (for example, income and housing), as well as creating healthier environments through the creation of healthy public spaces, as a foundation of a healthy city. The focus on the social and environmental determinants of health speak to a good wealth of research suggesting that medical care accounts for only about 10% of one’s health. Some of Mr. Picard’s suggestions for creating a healthy city included investing in good public transit, public spaces, greenery, and local farming; developing public institutions in the downtown core; creating mixed-used neighbourhoods and roads; and de-uglifying the city by taking cars out of the equation as much as possible – a key facet in all of these suggestions is the ability to bring people together.

Throughout the morning, a total of 9 lighting-stroke quick presentations (no exaggeration – each presentation was three minutes long) described some of the ways in which the City  was already working towards some of the building blocks identified in the strategy. For example, Bill Briscall spoke of the ways RainCity Housing was creating opportunities for healthier housing, and Miguel Testa and Steven Dang spoke about CitizenU, an innovative initiative that engages young people as leaders in addressing racism, discrimination, and bullying. The afternoon panel echoed some of the key points made by Mr. Picard in the keynote address, with a focus on decreasing health inequities in our more vulnerable populations and creating healthier public spaces and opportunities for increased social connections (something addressed in length in this recently released Vancouver Foundation report).

The strategy put forward by the City of Vancouver is ambitious, and serves as a comprehensive conceptual framework for the City. Mr. Picard offered some good advice moving forward: be bold with the strategy, but remember to have goals and timetable, as well as to prioritize (“if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority”). I look forward to seeing how the plan is put into action, and how it (in the words of Mayor Gregor) will accelerate and deliver.

Photo courtesy of JamesZ_Flickr

Meet Your Maker

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Join the ultimate celebration in Making, tinkering, hacking, crafting and inspiring innovation at the PNE Forum on June 23rd and 24th.Originating in San Francisco, Maker Faire is a two-day celebration of making and creating. The Maker Faire mission is to unite, inspire, inform and entertain the general community.  It’s an all-ages family festival promoting the ethos of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) on a large scale.

Maker Faire is a fun, interactive collection of demonstrations, exhibits, workshops and displays.Some Feature Exhibits Include:

Maker Projects – a 3D printer village, an off-road wheelchair, a “bike car”, electric drawing machines, handmade, wooden instruments from locally-sourced materials, urban farmers, a Young Makers section, home-made surfboards, sand sculpting, an Instagram wall, and much much more, such as…

Workshops – A demonstration on how to make bamboo bicycles, mathematical crafts with GeoBurst, how to build bee homes with locally-sourced materials, learn how to knit, solder, and more!
Commercial Vendors: Instructables, Got Craft?,  Blim, Army of Evil Robots, Plush on Main, The Hackery, and more!
Musicians and Performance Groups
 – Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra, flyingoctopus, The Carnival band, Mad Skillz Jugging festival and more!

Event Details:

Masthead photo courtesy of Dan Zen’s photostream on Flickr